Bristol-Myers Buys Amira

Drug maker agreed to buy privately held Amira Pharmaceuticals in an all-cash deal that could be worth $475 million counting milestone payments.

NEW YORK (AP) -- The drugmaker Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. has agreed to buy the privately held Amira Pharmaceuticals in an all-cash deal that could be worth $475 million counting milestone payments.

The New York company said after markets closed Thursday that it will pay $325 million upfront and then possibly an additional $150 million if certain targets are met.

Amira focuses on developing drugs to treat inflammatory and fibrotic diseases. Bristol-Myers said Amira's lead asset has completed early-stage testing and is a potential treatment for the lung disease idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis and scleroderma, a chronic autoimmune disease.

The San Diego company also has a pre-clinical autotaxin program that may help treat neuropathic pain and cancer metastases.

Bristol-Myers, based in New York, said the deal represents the latest example of its "String of Pearls" strategy to acquire biotech companies and experimental drugs.

Bristol-Myers shares closed at $29.56 in trading Thursday.

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